[This article first appeared in: Dementia Newsletter RWHT Volume 1 Issue 6 January 2011].
A large body of evidence now confirms the established link between low levels of physical activity and cognitive decline.
This meta-analysis pools previous research (taking 15 studies covering over 30,000 people) and provides compelling evidence that low to moderate exercise, such as playing a round of golf once a week or tennis twice a week, is linked to a 35% reduction in the risk of cognitive decline. It is thought that this could be due to physical activity increasing blood flow to the brain.
The authors call for further studies to determine the best “type, frequency and intensity of exercise” or physical activity that maintains memory into old age.
Sofi, F. Valecchi, D. Bacci, D. [et al] (2010). Physical activity and risk of cognitive decline: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Journal of Internal Medicine, January 2011, Vol.269(1), pp.107-17.
Related Systematic Review
Forbes, D. Forbes, S. [and] Morgan, DG. [et al] (2010). Physical activity programs for persons with dementia. London: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2008 (Issue 3).